I first visited the Easton Community Garden in September and discovered a very well laid out productive space next to a small Trading Estate near Greenbank Cemetery. I was shown round by Cristina Crossingham who had been an early member of the community enterprise.
In 2001 the land had become a neglected allotment site. The first volunteers to see the potential of the site were a Bristol Permaculture Group who undertook negotiations with Bristol City Council to rent the land as a community project. With successful negotiations completed the Council provided good fencing to stop fly tipping and to provide security. A round house shelter was installed to provide a communal meeting and social area. This was followed by a capacious, lockable shed, compost areas and the laying out of bark pathways between the individual beds. Worked on a rotation of crops basis fresh, delicious food is grown on an organic, no dig policy. With continuous mulching weeds are kept to a minimum or rigorously dealt with.
The early volunteers expanded to include local residents and other local groups. The ethos of the garden is Earth care, People care, Fair share. The core group of local volunteers are either retired, self employed with spare time, students, mothers with babies or young children and unemployed people. The garden is open to the public every Thursday on a drop-in basis and at the end of the day the harvest is shared out to everyone regardless of how much they were able to work. The garden is important in meeting some needs of the local community and offers a safe environment where everyone is equally valued. A learning opportunity is offered and several people over the years have gained the skill and confidence to go on to related employment. People who have social care needs or learning difficulties come with support workers.
Their shed was burnt down by accident and of course the contents with it. They have been fortunate in that the materials and labour for a new shed were donated by Grahams. Firstly the ground had had to be cleared and this was done by Good Gym, a voluntary running group who run from the centre of Bristol and like to have as their focal point an hour spent helping someone or some group who need a hand, then they run back to the centre of Bristol. They came and spent time clearing the site so the new shed could be built.
The Easton Community Garden group applied to the Avon Gardens Trust for replacement tools, as theirs had been irreparably damaged by the fire. Sadly, Cristina Crossingham died unexpectedly in early November. The core group are continuing her tradition of the well organised, welcoming and friendly atmosphere of the regular Thursdays. Our committee were pleased to grant their request and to support such a valuable community resource.